Should we accept Modi’s vision of India?
Our eternal optimism must prompt us to think of a recovery from the lost path. However, we should also realize that the recovery process will not be easy. How can we streamline the arbitrariness that has gripped our institutions? Can institutions abandon them overnight?
The citizens could be jailed for a longer period without any accountability on the part of agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigating Agency, and the CBI. This is why he talks of Bhartiya Nyay Samhinta, which has brought in laws that give unbridled power to the State
What was deliberated in the last session of the seventeenth Lok Sabha only confirmed that India is losing its path to democracy. There is no need to suffice democracy with words such as secularism and equality. These words are engrained in the very system that is known as democracy. We need to worry only about one thing: whether we are losing the path forever or for the time being. Our eternal optimism must prompt us to think of a recovery from the lost path. However, we should also realize that the recovery process will not be easy. How can we streamline the arbitrariness that has gripped our institutions? Can institutions abandon them overnight?
Rotting institutions have created their ideology. What is this ideology? This is, in fact, the ideology of Manusmirti—the text that institutionalizes oppression. A narrow reading of Manusmriti leads us to conclude that the text regulates the social behavior of Hindus only. A deeper study only shows that the text institutionalizes all sorts of oppression and discrimination. It is a Hindu text only to the extent that its immediate subjects were Hindus. A careful reading will only tell us how present rulers categorize people in the same pattern that Manusmriti has suggested. They have identified their shudras and pariahs. They have revived their own Brahmins and Kulins (elites). They are sentencing people based on this identification. Muslims are the new pariahs for these contemporary Manuvadis. Leftists and those who oppose the current dispensation are also pariahs. These modern pariahs are enemies of the proposed state of Hindu Rashtra. We must realize that the nation is fast inching towards the proposed state. The biggest hurdle is the election. This is the reason the Modi government is trying to change the process. What former President of India Ramnath Kovind has been entrusted with in the name of ‘one nation, one election’ should not be ignored as a routine affair. So long as elections are held, people are elected based on adult franchise, and the Constitution of India remains the basis of governance, no power on earth can change India into a Hindu Rashtra. However, both elections and the Constitution are under grave threat.
Speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha should be glanced at in their proper contexts. A superficial reading could miss the real content. Words like Ramrajya (the State governed on the principles of Raja Ram), Maryada, and Nyay present discrimination and oppression in acceptable garb. The Prime Minister hardly forgets to mention the abrogation of Article 370. He mentions this article as a ‘crack’ in the constitution. What the abrogation meant is known to one and all. The article gave autonomy to the people of Kashmir, who had chosen India over Pakistan, the nation-State that was formed based on religion. The abrogation not only deprived a State of its autonomy but also punished the Muslim majority of the State for opting for India as their country. He also mentions the abolition of Triple Talaq. Who does not know that abolition was hardly meant to empower women? It was meant to criminalize Muslims. His mention of terrorism is also meant to target minorities. Except for cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, India does not face any significant challenges from terrorism. However, the government and media make a bogey of it now and then. We see an increased flow of news related to terrorism during elections. This is done to criminalize minorities because authorities invariably associate terrorism with a particular religion.
In the Prime Minister’s speech, we can easily find how authoritarian elements in his decisions impress him most. He mentions the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, which undermines privacy and deprives citizens of the right to information. It only empowers the data companies and the government. Though Modi is not the only one to undermine democracy in the name of democracy, he has used the technique with greater skill. He reiterates his slogan "minimum government, maximum government" and invokes democracy as an inspiration. The truth is that citizens have been deprived of their right to protest, and the media has lost its freedom. There is minimum government for corporations and maximum governance for common citizens. He mentions how almost 180 provisions that have been impeding the ease of doing business have been abolished. The citizens could be jailed for a longer period without any accountability on the part of agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigating Agency, and the CBI. This is why he talks of Bhartiya Nyay Samhinta, which has brought in laws that give unbridled power to the State.
Home Minister Amit Shah declared that Lord Ram is not a person but a symbol for crores of people on how to live an ideal life. That is why he is called Maryada Purushottam, and Ram Rajya is not for any particular religion or sect; rather, it is a symbol of what an ideal state should be like, not only for India but for the entire world. Can we ignore the fact that the declaration has been made in Parliament on behalf of the Government of India? This is not an election speech or a speech made in a seminar. Instead of swearing in the name of the Constitution, the government is declaring Ram Rajya as a symbol of an ideal State. Many may argue that Gandhi also talked of Ram Rajya. Did he or his disciples try to induct the terminology into the Constitution? Shri Ram could be an inspiration, not a symbol of the State. We have accepted the Constitution as the guiding light for governance, not religion.
Should we accept Modi’s vision of India? The rule of majority.
(The author is a senior journalist. He has experience of working with leading newspapers and electronic media including Deccan Herald, Sunday Guardian, Navbharat Times and Dainik Bhaskar. He writes on politics, society, environment and economy)